What is high myopia?
High myopia is a relatively severe level of shortsightedness that can be associated with significant eye health complications.
Typically, people who develop high myopia become shortsighted early in childhood and their myopia gets progressively worse year after year during the school years up to and sometimes beyond early adulthood.
Shortsightedness (like all refractive errors) is measured in units called dioptres (D). The term high myopia generally is used to describe shortsightedness of -5.00 or higher, which produces uncorrected visual acuity of 6/120 or worse, (that is a person can read a letter at only 6m away that they should be able to read 120m away).
In almost all cases, heredity plays a role in the development of high myopia. If both parents are quite shortsighted, their child has a greater risk of developing high myopia.
High myopia itself does not generally lead to vision loss. However, people with the condition have a greater risk of developing several other vision-threatening conditions, including:
For this reason, it's essential that people with high myopia have routine eye tests so their optometrist can monitor the health of their eyes and look for signs of these and other complications of severe shortsightedness.
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One option is orthokeratology, which involves fitting specially designed gas permeable contact lenses that are worn nightly during sleep. The lenses gently reshape the cornea of the eye overnight, resulting in clear vision without corrective lenses during the day.
Though the vision correction effect of "ortho-k" is temporary (the lenses must be worn nightly to keep daytime vision without the lenses clear), this process also has been shown to slow the progression of myopia.
For more information on preventing high myopia, schedule an eye test for your child with an optometrist near you.
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Page published in March 2020
Page updated in January 2021